April showers got you down? Bake up some fava beans! Not only is this bean thought to make you happy, it has a variety of nutritional benefits too. In season from late March through May, the flat bean has a creamy texture and a slightly nutty flavor, which works well on its own or in salads, soups, and pastas. Although it does take some time to prepare — you'll have to shuck, blanch, and shell them — it's well worth the effort. Here's why:
- Loaded with nutrients: Just like all other legumes, fava beans are loaded with nutrients. They are a good source of vitamin B1, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium. Together, these nutrients contribute to a better immune and nervous system. Fava beans are also rich in vitamin A, a nutrient that helps with healthy, glowing skin — something we all love.
- Makes you happy: Yes, this tasty bean can make you smile. This is because it contains high concentrations of an amino acid known as L-dopa (dopamine), a chemical that helps to boost your mood and decrease depression.
- Keeps you full: One cup of fava beans will run you under 200 calories, making it a low-calorie option that is high in fiber but low in fat. It is also fairly high in protein (about 13g per cup), making it a snack that will help keep you full so you don't overindulge come lunch or dinner. Try spreading smashed fava beans on a slice of whole wheat toast.
- Offers variety: Mixing up your ingredients keeps your meal plans fresh (and helps you eat in season too!). Although fava beans are only available for a few months, take full advantage. Try adding them to a salad, soup, or even this easy appetizer.